Procrastination can be an insidious habit that shows up in various ways for all of us. When you’re busy with work, hustling to meet deadlines, and feeling like you never have idle time to relax, you might initially not identify as a procrastinator. But I’m inviting you to hear me out as I show you how procrastination is showing up for you and how to make peace with it.
When we put things off that we really want to be doing deep down, we’re left feeling frustrated, beating ourselves up for not prioritizing it, telling ourselves we should have known better. But you don’t have to stay stuck in this reality because this week, I’m showing you how to build the skills that will allow you to become proactive and move forward with confidence.
Tune in to discover what procrastination might currently look like in your life, and why it produces so much mental churn that keeps us feeling shame, guilt, and anxiety. I’m showing you how we tend to cope with the feeling of not taking the actions we want, and five ideas that will help you start to address your procrastination.
You’re listening to The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers Podcast episode number 26.
Welcome to The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers Podcast. I’m your host Paula Price, lawyer turned certified executive coach. This podcast was created to empower women lawyers just like you to create a life and practice you love. Join me every week for a break from the hustle so we can focus on you, what you truly want, and how you can create it.
If you’re over the overwhelm, done with putting out fires, and ready to create a life and practice that brings you more joy, you’re in the right place. Ready for today’s episode? Let’s dive in.
Hello my friends. Welcome back to the podcast. For anybody who’s joining for the first time, welcome. Glad to have you here. My name is Paula Price. I’m a lawyer turned certified executive coach, and the host of this podcast.
I am delighted to record this episode for all of you because procrastination is a topic that comes up quite a bit in my coaching conversations. It’s something that I have experienced myself. Today’s spin on procrastination may be a little bit different from what you’re used to hearing. So I’m really excited to share this with you.
I hope you’re excited to listen all about procrastination and to find a way really to make peace with this whole idea of procrastination and really define peace with yourself when it comes to things you maybe are putting off or haven’t done. So the reason that I wanted to talk about this is because it is something that has come up recently in conversations that I’ve had with others, and it’s something that I’m experiencing currently.
There are different forms of procrastination that are out there. So before we get into it, I really want to talk about a specific type of procrastination. So there’s the task specific procrastination. That might be something that you experience when you sit down to write a memo, for example, and you just put it off. You decide to write a memo, for example, and you just put it off. You decide you’d rather scroll Facebook, or some emails seem more important. You may find that you have trouble meeting some very specific deadlines.
So that, to me, is one form of procrastination. I coach clients and lawyers on that topic. To me, that’s really a question of systems and working through systems and finding new ways to think about projects to help overcome that discomfort of getting started on a specific project or goal.
That, to me, is a little bit different from what I wanted to talk to you about today, which is a bigger picture procrastination. The reason I think this particular type of procrastination is really worth talking about is because many of you may not identify yourselves as procrastinating, but in fact you are. The reason you might not be identifying yourself as procrastinating is because you’re very busy.
So this comes up a lot where you may be so busy with the day to day. The tasks come in. You’re handling them. So you’re completing things. You’re doing things on time. You’re meeting deadlines. You’re not sitting idle at your desk scrolling Facebook. Where the procrastination comes in is that there are goals that you have for yourself or there are things that you want to change in your practice, these bigger very important goals that keep on drifting.
I spoke the other week about Stephen Covey and his four quadrants. I’ll just go over that very quickly because I think that helps to situate us for today’s topic. Stephen Covey divides work into four different topics based on urgency and importance.
There are tasks that are urgent and important. Chances are you spend much of your days dealing with those. Then there are the not urgent matters. So there is, for example, the not urgent but important long term planning. Those types of projects. Maybe it’s changing jobs. Maybe it’s going towards a specific promotion. It could be something that’s in the long term, but it’s not particularly urgent. Then there’s the not important not urgent matters.
So I would just like to give you that framework to think about what activities would fall into the different quadrants. What might be on your not urgent but important list that maybe you have been putting off.
So one way to identify some of these is to ask yourself where your should statements come up. I love this expression from Tony Robbins. You won’t be surprised. I am a coach. I listened at one point, not so much anymore, but when I first got interested in coaching. I listened to a lot of Tony Robbins videos. I’ve seen him present live. I quite admire his energy. He’s a force of nature.
One of the things that he talked about that really struck me early on was his notion of should. That chances are you’re telling yourself that you should be doing something, right? Maybe it’s you should be—New Year’s resolutions are a good example. I should lose weight. I should stop smoking. Not that these necessarily apply to you, but these are kind of classic should statements.
In your legal practice, you may have other shoulds. The should maybe I need to work less. For some lawyers the issue is their billable hours are higher than they would like them to be for whatever reason. Maybe they would like to create more time for non-billable activities and other aspects of their life. So that might be something that they’re saying, “Well, I should make a correction to that.”
It could be that you want to change your job. So it may be that I should leave private practice. I should leave this particular working environment that I’m in. It may also be that there is somebody on their team that is not working. So you may find yourself saying, “I should have a conversation with my assistant. I should get the ball rolling and find a new assistant.”
So what I’m inviting you to think about is the areas in your life where you have these should statements. Going back to Tony Robbins, his whole thing is that you should not be, another should statement. His whole thing is you should not be shielding all over yourself. So I think that’s a really powerful way of describing it.
It really invites you to start thinking about situations where you are telling yourself that you should be doing something. In today’s podcast episode, we are going to go into that more deeply. I’m going to offer you some strategies for how to deal with those should statements.
So the problem with procrastination is twofold. I mean on the one hand, there’s this idea of putting things off. Maybe that doesn’t lead to the most desirable outcomes. We’ll talk about that. The other piece of procrastination, and this is what I really want to focus on here today. There’s a lot of baggage that comes along with that feeling of procrastination.
So for some of you, it might be that feeling of shame. I know that’s one of the feelings that comes up for me. If I put something off and I don’t do it, I instantly start to feel shame. I start to beat myself up. “Oh Paula, you should have seen that coming. Why didn’t you do something about it earlier?” That can be one of the things that comes to mind for you when you procrastinate on something.
It could also be that you feel guilt that you haven’t done it sooner. You may feel frustrated because you’re upset with yourself for not having made something a priority. It may also be that you start to identify yourself as a procrastinator. As opposed to looking at one incident and saying, “Okay, well, this is one thing that is put off.” You may start to really label yourself. Then you may start to live into that idea that you have of yourself. It may not even be true.
You may also start to feel like a victim. You may start seeing things as being out of your control. Unfortunately that can have the effect of not only robbing your power but also putting you in a frame of mind where you no longer even really feel like taking action on the thing that you think that you should be doing. So there’s a lot that comes out of procrastination. Not just the fact that you’re putting things off, but also that mental churn that goes along with it.
While I was preparing for today’s podcast, I came across a definition online of procrastination that I liked because it’s neutral. It came from the Oxford online dictionary. The word procrastination was defined there as the act of delaying or postponing something. I liked this definition because it’s simply stating it’s putting something off. There’s no guilt or shame or judgement attached to that.
So as we talk today about procrastination and how you can make peace with it, we’re going to talk about it in the context of whether you choose to do something about the thing that you think you should do or if you choose not to. So I’m excited to share that with you.
Now the reason that procrastination exists, particularly this type of procrastination that I’m talking about today, is there are a lot of reasons for it. It’s not that there’s inherently something wrong with you. It is because a number of things like you’re busy.
This is probably the number one thing that comes up is that you are committed to your work, projects related to your work, family commitments, social commitments. You may have other interests outside of your family and outside of your work that you are engaged in. So when you’re busy, it legitimately becomes very difficult to schedule in time to do things that are not urgent but that are important.
It can also be that some of these things are really uncomfortable to act on. There may be risk involved. So if you’re in a job situation, for example, where you’re not entirely comfortable and you know that it’s not for you, there may be that risk that the next job that you find won’t be any better. So you can think about different situations. Maybe it’s an assistant that you’re working with, and you’re thinking, “Well, the risk of finding somebody else. Maybe they don’t know me as well. Maybe it won’t be better.” So you could see how that would prevent you from taking action.
There’s also the idea that there are ebbs and flows. So it may be that there is something that you really want to do in the future. Maybe it’s an assistant that you’re working with or a colleague that you’re working with where most of the time things are okay, but every once in a while there’s a big blow up and things go very much sideways. Every time that happens, you think to yourself, “Okay I really need to do something about this.”
Then you enter into this almost like a honeymoon or grace period where nothing happens. So it’s easy to put that task or that thing that you would like to do back to the bottom of the to-do list because it no longer has that sense of pain or urgency. Another reason why this idea of procrastination exists, one of the reasons why we don’t take action is that it requires you to make a decision, and you may not want to do that.
So there’s lots of ways that we cope with things that we are putting off. Number one is we tell ourselves it’s not so bad. I mean maybe you are sitting in a job that you’ve outgrown, that is no longer right for you, maybe you’re really unhappy, maybe you’ve got colleagues that you’re no longer connecting with. Maybe you are wanting to do something different, right.
Maybe you’ve already decided that you’re ready to go in house. That you no longer want to be in private practice. You’re telling yourself it’s not so bad. I don’t really have to do this. Maybe this isn’t the right decision for me. Going back to that eb and flow concept, it may be only in certain times where you realize, “No, this is what I really want.” Then there are other times where it’s not so bad.
You may also be telling yourself that you will make a change when you’ve reached a certain milestone. So, for example, I know this has happened with me. It has happened with clients. It’s happened with colleagues that I used to work with where they knew they wanted to make a change, but there were events going on within their practice that they wanted to be there for. Maybe it’s a trial that you’re working on or a closing with a particular client and you don’t want to leave them stranded.
So you start basing your decision on when those milestones happen. The trouble with that approach, of course, is that there are always going to be new fresh milestones. So that’s another thing that comes up.
It could also be that you are downplaying the importance of the thing you want. So maybe it is that you truly want something different for yourself, but you downplay the importance of that relative to what it is that you’re doing right now. It could also be that one of the ways that you try to cope is to tell yourself that things are going to get better.
I see this in working relationships, for example, where you have somebody that is reporting to you that isn’t doing the job very well. You’re trying your best to improve on that relationship. Things aren’t improving and you’re really telling yourself, “No, this is going to get better.” Then it doesn’t.
So when we choose not to take action, when we choose to let things drift, there are a number of things that happen. Number one is it doesn’t get better. It almost certainly will get worse. The other reason that this doesn’t really work is that we’re not taking responsibility for the thing that is happening. So when we don’t take responsibility for those decisions then it’s easy to slip into victim mode where we feel like things are happening to us in our lives as opposed to seeing ourselves as the actions who really have power to make changes.
We may be less motivated to change things when we’re coming at our lives from that feeling of, “Okay, this is all happening around me. There is nothing I can do about it.” Then it leads to that feeling of empowerment and it becomes increasingly difficult to do something about it.
I wanted to pause here to say I really, if this resonates with you and you’re sitting there thinking I can think about five things that I’m procrastinating on. This is terrible. I do not want you to beat yourself up. This is so normal. We all procrastinate or put things off. The point of this podcast is I don’t want you to feel badly about it. I want to offer you ways to feel better about it, to feel empowered in relationship to things that are going on in your life.
So I just wanted to pause here and make sure that you’re not falling into that trap of feeling shame, feeling guilt, feeling frustrated. There are ways to deal with this and that’s what I want to talk about today.
So going back to what happens if we don’t deal either with the procrastination or with the mental churn that comes along with it is the problem that we’re trying to avoid will continue to exist. there’s a good chance that it will start to get worse.
You may have seen this before. Maybe it’s happened to you. Sometimes if you are putting something off, let’s say it’s a job situation that is no longer working. It can actually impact your performance at that job. So you may see that your performance starts to get worse.
If it’s a relationship issue, so maybe it’s somebody who you’re working with, and you see that that relationship just continues to snowball. Maybe they continue to underperform. You start to get more frustrated with them. That causes a further rift in the relationship. Then they feel less comfortable around you. They may be less invested in the relationship and their role. They may start to underperform even further. So it almost can have this snowball effect. So that’s something that can happen if we don’t deal with the thing but also the procrastination.
So the second thing that happens, which is potentially even worse than the problem at hand, is the relationship you end up having with yourself. So when you are letting things drift and you’re not making a conscious choice around it, you may start to lose trust and faith in yourself. You may start questioning your ability to make decisions. You might be questioning your ability to handle change.
What happens is you can get used to ignoring your own needs. So you may know in your heart of hearts that it’s time to move on. It’s time to make a change. It’s time to take action. Instead of doing that you talk yourself out of it. So at a very deep level, you can start to be telling yourself that it’s okay for you to not follow through on the things that you really need.
Another thing you might experience is that you end up living with this kind of low level of anxiety. It’s always kind of there in the background. You’re kind of thinking about it. It’s almost like one of those quiet files that sits in the back of your filing cabinet that every once in a while needs attention.
Every time you think about it, it kind of makes your stomach turn. That can almost be what it feels like when you’re thinking about something that you’ve been putting off that you know is important to you. So that feeling of anxiety, and also that feeling of powerlessness or embarrassment or shame that you haven’t done something about it.
So that’s why I think it’s really important that we address this type of procrastination in particular and make it possible to deal with the things that we want to deal with and also deal with the guilt and the shame that may come along with putting these things off. So I’ve got five ideas that I think will help for this scenario. I’m going to go through each of those.
The first one is to start noticing the should statements. So going back to Tony Robbins, where are you shoulding all over yourself? Are you telling yourself that you should have known better? Are you telling yourself I should quit my job? Are you telling yourself I should apply for a new job? I should find a new assistant. I should start my own practice. I should apply for that position in my firm. It’s going to be great. There may be all these opportunities that you know that you should do. So the first thing is to just notice where you’re saying should.
It may also come up outside of the office. It can come up in your personal life. I should have a conversation with that person about the way that our relationship is heading. I should figure out new ways of managing conflict with my children. I should take better care of my health. I should make more time for downtime.
So these are all statements that once you start to notice them, you’ll see that there are many places potentially in your life where you have these should statements and they linger. And you may or may not be doing anything about them.
So once you’ve identified your should statement. To the extent you can write these things down, I highly recommend it. Because it makes these experiences so much more powerful when you’re able to see your own words appear. It gives you that point of reference. It makes it more objective. It allows you to engage at a more thoughtful level. You start to engage your prefrontal cortex, which, of course, is responsible for your executive functioning.
So you’re pulling yourself out of the more emotional state into the more creative and thoughtful planning state. So I would encourage you to write these things down. What are some of the should statements that keep showing up in your life?
Once you do that, then I would invite you to not judge yourself. Whatever you do during this exercise, let’s not judge ourselves. Instead to ask yourself questions. So some questions that I will offer you and I would encourage you to think of the questions that suit you best would be, for example, what is going on here?
So, for example, if you have an assistant that you’re working with and there’s just conflict. Things aren’t going exactly the way that you want. Maybe this has been ongoing for a while. You say I should talk to him or her about what’s going on. What is going on there?
So why are you choosing to put that off? Is it that you’re worried about having a conversation where it’s going to be awkward? You don’t really know what you’re going to say. You don’t know what outcome you’re really wanting at this point. Do you want to work on that relationship? Do you want to end it and start afresh?
So ask yourself these questions. So why am I choosing to put this off? What is uncomfortable about this situation? Are you going to have to deliver bad news? Are you going to have to assert a boundary? Are you going to have to ask for something that you want? These may be things that are uncomfortable for you. If you can identify them then you can really start to really think about what makes them uncomfortable and how you can approach these aspects of the conversation in a way that maybe it may not be less comfortable, but you can maybe allow yourself to test and try it.
What happens if I continue to ignore it? So if you look at that situation and say okay well what happens? If I don’t have this conversation with my assistant, I know that this relationship will continue as is. Is that something that I’m okay with? Another question to ask is how long have I been doing this? Is this something that’s been going on for a couple of weeks? Has it been going on for a couple of months? All that information will help you understand yourself better and to really dig into the problem.
Another question might be how much longer is this relevant to me? If this is a problem that is going to resolve itself, that may be a reason not to deal with it. Now you may decide that there’s something there that you want to explore regardless.
If the relationship, for example, if you’re working with somebody who’s a temp and they’re going to be leaving in a couple of weeks. There may be very little incentive for you to explore what’s going on in that specific relationship. There may be something deeper that’s going on there that you think, “Okay, this is something that I would like to work on in the next relationship that I have with my assistant.”
I’m sorry for keeping on going back to the same example. I’m hoping that this is one that you can relate to. It could be anybody. It could be a colleague. It could be somebody who you report to. What I’m trying to do is give one specific example so that you can think about how this would be applied. I would invite you and encourage you to think about where this might be applicable in your own practice or in your own personal life.
So a couple more questions that you might be asking yourself. What could I learn from this situation? So these are some questions that I offer to you. So once you’ve identified your should statement, rather than judging yourself I would encourage you to ask questions about it and to answer those questions.
The next step, step three, is to listen to your options. Again, I really encourage you to go back to putting these options out on paper. One of your options is always going to be to do nothing. So if it is a goal that you’re working towards, you do not have to go towards that goal. You can just let it be there and not do anything about it.
Similarly, unless something is forcing you, if you’re in a job and you’re not happy, you could continue to do that job without going and finding a new one. If you have a relationship that is not ideal, you can continue on. There is nobody who’s saying that you have to do something.
So I would like to put that option on the table because your choice at the end of all this may be to do nothing. If that’s your choice then I would encourage you and invite you to own that decision. We may not deal with the procrastination question.
If it is something that’s truly important to you and you’re putting it off, maybe it doesn’t get better. Maybe you don’t get further ahead. At least you can do that from a place of choice where you feel empowered that you’ve chosen that path as opposed to thinking about it in the victim mode. So we’ll talk about that a little bit more.
I want you to write that out, write out all your different options. One of the wonderful things about his part of the exercise is that you can get creative. You can engage your prefrontal cortex and start listing out what all the options might be.
So going to the example of an assistant, for example, that you’re having a difficult relationship with. Maybe it’s that you have a conversation with her. Maybe it’s that you have a conversation with HR. maybe it’s that you identify some of the things that are not working in that relationship. Are they training issues? Are they personality issues? If it’s training, are there courses that you could help support him or her with? If it’s a relationship issue, are there ways that you can engage with that person that would be more productive? So it’s really listing and brainstorming what some of those ideas might be for you.
So once you’ve done that, I would invite you to choose an option. It could be whichever option seems most appealing to you. When you do this, I’m going to invite you to use a goal setting model. I talk about it in podcast episode number six. I call it a GREAT! goal. I’m going to run through one really quickly with you to show you how it works because this is where you get to be intentional. This is where you get to decide with deliberate intention that you’re going to choose either to do something or to not do something.
So in this case, for example, maybe your goal is to pick a new assistant. So you write that out. That is the goal. I want to find a new person to work with. This relationship is no longer working. So the reason for that. Why do you want to do this? What is important to you about doing this? This is so important because you may have different reasons depending on what you choose. So in one example where you have the decision to find somebody new, the reason might be peace of mind. That’s something that’s really important to you and you need that. So then the next question is…
I should explain. The GREAT! goal is an acronym. So for each of the letters, great and the exclamation point, there’s a prompt. It’s a prompt to do something. So the first G is goal. So goal is here a new assistant. The R is reason. So the reason for doing something. Here the reason is I want peace of mind.
The third item is E for energy. So when you go about this goal, what kind of energy do you want to bring to that process? Here the energy that I’m suggesting for this example might be gratitude. Maybe you’re grateful to the current person that you’re working with for all that they have done for you for the relationship that you have had with them recognizing that that relationship is no longer working.
Another element of energy that you might bring is resolve. So you may be committed, or you may be resolved to finding somebody who’s really going to work in the parameters or your practice. So that might be some of the energy that you bring to that process. Finally focus. You know that if you’re going to do this, you’re going to need to spend some time on it where you are truly focused on figuring these things out. So that will be another element that you want to bring to this challenge, this process.
So I use the word energy. You could use the word emotion. I find as a lawyer sometimes it’s hard for us to talk in terms of the language of emotion. I, as a coach, think emotions are very powerful and they can really drive us in one direction or another. So I would invite you to use whichever word is more appealing and resonates more strongly with you. It could be energy. It could be emotion. The idea here is really to see yourself in the process of making things happen and identifying specifically how you want to show up.
So the next letter is A. Here we put action. So what actions do you need to take to get towards your goal? So in this case, for example, it might be contacting your human resources department to set up a conversation with them. It may be that you need to start interviewing candidates. It may be that you need to identify the tasks that you’re going to want this person to help you with. So give yourself a nice granular action list, and that’s going to tell you exactly what you need to do. That’s going to give you a road map.
The next letter in the acronym is T for time. Here I would invite you to think about what that is going to look like when you actually set up to do your tasks. So here I’ve estimated maybe it’s five hours all together. Maybe it’s that time that you spend talking to HR. it’s time that you spend drafting the ideal job description. It’s time you spend interviewing. It may be more time than that because maybe there’s also transition time. Ideally you want to give yourself a sense of how long this project is going to take.
You might also look at time from a longer perspective. So here I also put five weeks because maybe it’s going to take that long from start to finish. Your actual involvement may be five hours, but the amount of time it’s going to take for this thing to happen is actually five weeks. So doing it like that just gives you a little bit more granularity in terms of it is what’s about to be expected of you.
This helps particularly if it’s something that you’ve been putting off, procrastination, because now all of a sudden you have something that you can schedule in your calendar. So going back to some of those action steps. You now no longer have to look at it as this big ominous find a new assistant. It’s broken down into tasks. I’m going to make an appointment with HR. That’s my first step. Then I’m going to write my list. So it’s really breaking it down into more manageable pieces, which makes your goal less daunting and much more doable.
So the final piece of this exercise is an exclamation point. I put the exclamation there on purpose to be a wild card because sometimes there’s something that doesn’t really get captured by setting up this goal. So in this case, what would be a wild card reason for wanting to get an assistant?
Here’s some ideas. This is my opportunity to learn how to assert myself in this type of situation. It gives me a chance to find the support that I need for my practice to grow the way that I want it to. I need to have the right support and foundation in place if I want to develop my practice the way that I want to.
So those are some reasons that would fall into that wild card category. I would invite you to think about what those would be for you. Those can be really powerful. It can be really interesting to see what comes up for you when you ask yourself that question.
So that was step four. That was picking one of the options that you have and committing to it. Now I mentioned that you could pick doing nothing. If that’s the course of action that you choose, I still recommend going through this exercise because you’re going to figure out a lot about yourself.
So thinking about it. If your goal is to stay put, your reason may be I want to learn how to better manage this relationship so that I can learn that skill of turning around a relationship and seeing if we can actually work together. That could be a goal. Maybe the energy that you bring to it is empathy, determination, commitment, and then the action steps that you would take.
It could also be that maybe you’ve got a goal that you’re not acting on, and you decide that for now the action that you’re going to take or the goal that you’re going to have is to do nothing about that goal. The reason maybe I’m choosing to focus on other things right now, and I will revisit it later. So you are making that conscious choice. The reason that you’re doing it is because what is currently on your desk is really important to you and you want to focus on that.
So you can still do nothing, but the idea here is to do nothing about one thing with the reason clear in your mind. That follows through to the emotions you’re wanting to feel, the actions steps that you may or may not take, the time that you’re going to commit, etcetera.
So the final step here is to change your language. So, again, regardless of what decision you make, what path you choose to follow. What I would encourage you to do here is to be really deliberate about the language that you use with yourself. So instead of using words like I’m putting this off or I’m procrastinating, or I can’t do that right now, I would encourage you to think of more empowering ways to talk to yourself so that you feel more empowered frankly.
So it may be I choose to. I’m choosing to put this on the backburner until next year then I’m going to make that change. I’m choosing to not do something. I’m choosing to do something. Use that language. It really is empowering when you start thinking of your life that way.
I think we talk about the language of being busy. I’m too busy to do this. I’m too busy to do that. That’s a place where I think it really comes up. We can fall into a bit of a victim mentality that if it weren’t for all these things we had to do, we would be doing something else. The language of choice puts that ownership back on our shoulders in a very positive way. Because I think once you start looking at it as a choice that you’re making, then you get to make decisions from a place where you are in power. You’re creating as opposed to reacting.
Another language sample or language idea is you may choose to use language like, “I am a lawyer who”. I love these statements where you set yourself up with the vision of who and how you want to be. So I am a lawyer who knows how to prioritize what matters most in the moment. Something like that.
Another thing you might say to yourself is I am willing to feel discomfort. So if you choose to take a path that requires you to do something that is uncomfortable for you, maybe it’s that conversation that you are going to have with your assistant. Maybe that conversation becomes I am willing to feel the discomfort of asking for what I need. So just looking at the way that you speak to yourself is a really key step here. I would invite you to think of language that is the language that you would use for a friend.
I did an episode; the podcast reference escapes me at the moment. It was called How To Be Your Own Best Boss. It will be linked to the notes on the website that hosts this podcast episode. There I offer some ideas in terms of how you can speak to yourself in a way that is empowering. So if you’re looking for some ideas, I would invite you to check out that episode.
So the five steps in summary are number one, notice the should statements. Number two, rather than judge yourself, ask yourself statements about what it is that you think that you should be doing. Number there is to list out all your options. So to get your pen and paper in hand, to really engage with your executive functioning and think about what options do I have here.
Number four is to pick one and commit to it and to write out a goal around that decision. Number five is to change the language that you use with yourself. When you speak to yourself, use language that empowers you, that acknowledges your choice, your role, your responsibility. When you do all of these things, you will find that you’re not operating from a much different space.
If you’ve decided to put something off then you are in control of that. You’ve done that for a reason, and you no longer need to beat yourself up over that decision. If you are doing something about it, great. You may be making progress towards something that you’re really wanting to do. It’s a way to do that.
The reason that this process will work is that you’re taking responsibility. So you’re no longer putting yourself in victim mode where you’re too busy to do something or you’re scared to do it or whatever the reason may have been. You’re either doing it or you’re not doing it, but you feel confident that that’s the right choice for you.
It also means that you are pulling away from the emotional churn and getting to the facts. So if you actually sit down and write out the answers of these questions, it will be so much easier for you to engage with the fact scenario and to see what actually needs to be done versus the emotional churn. This happens to me. I think it happens to most of us.
When we have these daunting tasks, all we can really feel and see when we think about them in our minds is the discomfort of that conversation, the enormity of the chore ahead of us, the fact that we already have five other things that we need to do.
When you actually sit down and write it out and imagine how long it actually will take you, it could be that this will be a two hour project that will save you dozens of hours down the road. So doing something like this really helps you get into that more proactive state rather than falling victim to the situation at hand and really allowing your emotions to kind of rule the show here.
A reason why this would also work for you potentially as well is that you may not like to do this in the short term, but you’re going to really like the result in the long run. So you’ll finally get that clarity that you want. You’ll get the support that you need. You’ll get the outcome that you’re looking for. That will feel really good. As you do that and as you do this more frequently, then you will really develop that sense of self-trust. That is priceless. I mean that really is where you want to be.
That, I think, is probably the biggest takeaway that you can get from today’s episode is developing that sense of self-trust so that you’re not ignoring your needs, so that you’re not beating yourself up if you’re not going and getting things done the way that you think you should be getting them done. It’s really being accountable to yourself and developing that relationship that you have with yourself.
The skills that you’ll need to implement these five steps. Number one, you’re going to need to take 100% responsibility for your choices and your decisions. That is so empowering. So I encourage all of you to really look at this as you are the actor. You’re the leading lady in your own movie. You’re going to take control here, and you’re going to make decisions from a place of power.
The second is that you will need to learn how, or you’ll need to learn a skill of tolerating, accepting, and even welcoming discomfort. So that might not come naturally. I don’t think any of us really lives to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. I kind of do now because I’m doing this work as a coach, and I think it’s really important and I love what is on the other side of discomfort.
So it may mean that you need to be okay with disappointment people who may not like a change that you’re going to make. It may also be that you need to be okay with making mistakes, not doing things perfectly. So as you grow, as you push yourself outside of things that you’ve done before, you are going to be entering that zone of discomfort. Part of the skillset that you’ll need to make this process work for you is to really embrace that or at least be okay with it.
The final skill that I think you need for this to really work is simply to be kinder to yourself. I think so many of us unconsciously or consciously end up beating ourselves up over things, especially when it comes to procrastination. Especially when you say, “Well, I knew I should have done something about this a year ago. The writing was on the wall. I’ve really wanted to do this, and I keep letting myself down because I’m not doing it.”
So instead of having that kind of dialogue with yourself, I think just being kind to yourself and looking at yourself in the most positive light and focusing on the things that you’re doing well as opposed to the things that you’re not doing well just sets you up for such a happier existence and a much happier life. I think when you are in that zone where you feel good about yourself and you have your own back and you trust yourself, you’re so much more able to move forward confidently. Because you know that you’re not going to feel shame or guilt or frustration with yourself if you don’t follow through on the things that you wanted to.
So over the long run when you do this, you’ll create more of what you want. You’ll really develop that trust with yourself. Ideally as you do this, you’ll be a role model for others, and they will feel empowered to do the same.
So that my friends is what I have to share with you today. I hope that these ideas, that these suggestions will help you to make peace with procrastination whether you choose to take on something that you have been putting off or whether you make a choice that can wait. That maybe it doesn’t need to be done or maybe it doesn’t need to be done right now. That you make those choices consciously and that you feel good about them, that you feel confident about those decisions.
Now I just wanted to mention that I’m having a free webinar on Friday December 3rd at noon Pacific time. It’s all about amplifying your impact. It’s the third of a series of webinars that I’ve been offering. The first was all about creating a goal for yourself. The second was all about decluttering the things that might get in your way.
This particular webinar is all about how you can overcome some of the challenges that you may have when it comes to going after your goals. So this is pretty much on topic here talking about how procrastination might get between you and what you want to do. There are also other barriers that might stand between you and your goals.
So it’s a workshop style webinar. I’ll have a workbook for you. We’ll go through the exercises together. I’m really excited about that. I’d love to see you there. So that’s on December 3rd. The link to that webinar to register will be in the show notes. So you can go look for that if you’re interested in joining.
I would also love to extend an invitation to connect on LinkedIn if you like or to connect via email. I do one to one coaching with lawyers, and I would love to have the chance to chat with you if there’s something you would like to be working on. I work with women lawyers and men lawyers. So if you have male colleagues that you would like to also mention this to, by all means go ahead.
I’m just really excited for the opportunities for us to continue on with our conversation. I really hope that the podcast episodes have been resonating with you. If you have any stories about how this podcast has helped you make changes in your practice or see things in a different light, I would love to hear about it.
So thank you all of you for joining me again here this week. It has been such a pleasure connecting with you. I’m so excited to reconnect with all of you next week. Bye for now.
If you enjoyed today’s show and don’t want to miss an episode, subscribe, and follow the show wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you haven’t already, please leave a rating and review. Your feedback will help me create a podcast that’s tailored to your needs and goes straight to the heart of what matters to you. For instructions on how to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast, visit www.thejoyfulpractice.com/podcastlaunch. See you next time.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Joyful Practice for Women Lawyers podcast. If you want more information, visit www.thejoyfulpractice.com. See you next week.